Lexington's First Airport

Historical Marker #2440 in Fayette County commemorates Halley Field, Lexington’s first airport, located on Meadowthorpe Farm.

Meadowthorpe was a well-known stock farm owned by Jacob Hostetter. A two-story Greek Revival house was built on the property around 1849. After his death in 1886, that farm was sold to William H. Cheppu, a well-known bookmaker. On April 28, 1892, in order to pay off a debt, he sold it to Colonel James E. Pepper, owner of the Pepper Distillery. He remodeled and enlarged the house, and added a new front gable which was inscribed “Meadowthorpe 1892.”

In 1898, the estate was deeded to Pepper’s wife, but after his accidental death in 1906, it was acquired by Dr. Samuel H. Halley, president and general manager of Fayette Tobacco Warehouse. He and his family lived there through the 1920s.

The first airport serving Lexington opened in the summer of 1927, with World War I ace Ted Kincannon as manager. Charles Lindbergh made arrangements with Kincannon to land there on March 28, 1928, with the stipulation that his arrival be kept secret. 17-year-old, Melvin Rhorer, was recruited to mark the field for the landing and spend the night in the plane, while Lindbergh went to visit a friend, Dr. Scott D. Breckinridge. The secret leaked out overnight and the next morning there were 3,000 people there to watch the plane take off.

Halley Field was host to air circuses, air shows, flight training, sight-seeing tours, and small airlines. Because it was only a level pasture surrounded by trees and telephone wires, it was a challenging place to land and take off.

In 1930, a new municipal airport was built on Newtown Pike, and Halley Field was abandoned in 1934. Meadowthorpe Farm was later sold to H.R.Taylor and reverted back to farmland, but began being sold for building lots in 1949.

Images

Meadowthorpe Farm

Meadowthorpe Farm

Meadowthorpe Farm in 1898 Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

"Air Climbers of America"

"Air Climbers of America"

"Air Climbers of America" at Halley Field in 1930 Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh with dignitaries at Halley Field in March 1928 Courtesy of the University of Kentucky View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Becky Riddle, “Lexington's First Airport,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 23, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/708.

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